Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Bell Miner
Also known as: Bellbird
Manorina melanophrys
(Viewing 4 of 4 photos)

Click to listen to sound samples "Bell-Birds" - Henry Kendall in his famous poem made them sound so idyllic and they certainly do if you hear them out on a Sunday drive. Not if you live close by they don't, it's a different story!! The incessant calling of bellbirds can be enough to make you move out, and that is part of their strategy. A friend of mine once wanted to know how to get rid of them but there is little you can do.

Bell Miners (or Bellbirds) are actually honeyeaters, or more precisely miners, closely related to the Noisy Miner. They live in close knit colonies and amongst the 40 or 50 birds there are usually only about three or four pairs of breeding adults. All the others are helpers and do their bit for the community, helping to feed the nestlings and also to protect the colony. (seems like there is something we could learn here!)

Saturating the surroundings with song (= sound) is one way of getting rid of the competition. You won't find many other birds in a bellbird colony. And like other miners, if the subtle approach doesn't work, then they get physical - they actually attack any other bird (even quite large birds) and drive them out of their territory.

As the poem says, bellbirds are "down the dim gorges" - birds of the wetter forest regions of eastern Australia from near Melbourne, north to about Gympie in Queensland. Colonies are not always permanent - they can remain in the one area for many years, but they do move occasionally - nobody knows why. Bad luck if they move in near you.


Photo: 633203-D

633203-D ... Bell Miners, better known as Bellbirds.

Photo: 633204

633204 ... Nest and eggs of Bell Miner.

Photo: 633205

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Photo: 633206

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